2009 Budget - Abdullah fighting for his political life

“Abdullah attacks ‘populist’ claims while presenting populist budget”

This thought occurred to me when the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced a string of goodies in his 2009 Budget in Parliament today, including the following:

“Those who use less than RM20 of electricity per month will not be charged.”

One would have thought that Abdullah is preparing to fight an early general election if one had not been held just less than six months ago from which Abdullah and the Barisan Nasional emerged badly mauled – followed by another blow to the solar plexus in the Permatang Pauh by-election only three days ago.

But Abdullah was fighting for his political life when he presented the 2009 Budget.

I am not the only one to read Abdullah’s 2009 budget,as his “last ditch bid to cling to power” as a Singapore-based analyst commented: “It is a populist budget to deflect the growing popularity of Anwar”

Never before in Malaysia’s 51-year history has a budget received so little national interest and public attention – as all focus is on how long the Barisan Nasional government can last or Abdullah survive as Prime Minister.

In the past three days after the Permatang Pauh by-election, demands have grown in UMNO for Abdullah to step down as Prime Minister and from the other Barisan Nasional component parties to quit the ruling coalition.

Abdullah referred to this deepening political, economic and nation-building multiple crisis of confidence in the conclusion of his budget speech.

He said:

“120. The tabling of the 2009 Budget demonstrates yet again that the Barisan Nasional Government is responsive to the concerns of the rakyat and has taken measures to lighten the burden of all Malaysians, particularly the lower income group. The approach taken is focused towards support and assistance, which not only improves the quality of life but also enables all Malaysians to enhance their productivity. This Budget is in line with the medium term plan as articulated in the National Mission and the Ninth Malaysia Plan to further develop the nation towards Vision 2020.

“121. The Barisan Nasional Government will continue to manage the economy responsibly. The Opposition, on the other hand, continues to make populist claims, which, if implemented, would undermine the Government’s financial position and bequeath a bankrupt nation to the next generation.”

A competition could be held as to the number of incorrect, misleading or downright baseless claims or false assertions in just these two paragraphs – symptomatic of a Prime Minister and government in deep crisis of confidence.

Lim Kit Siang

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